Spanish is a null subject language that admits the expression or omission of lexical subjects. As well, the expression of the subject argument may take place pre or post verbally (Española, R. A., 2009). This variation of the subject’s position is not a random phenomenon; it tends to depend on syntactic and semantic preferences and restrictions.
This investigation analyzes pre and post verbal nominal and pronominal subject position in the colloquial speech of Spanish-English bilinguals of Mexican descent in the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area. The phenomenon’s analysis considers linguistic factors such as the syntactical and semantically classification of the verb type as copulative, transitive and intransitive; the subject only in the third person, the number as singular and plural, new or given information in the discourse, and the participants’ self evaluation of their bilingual dominance in one language (Dunn, & Fox Tree, 2009). As well, social extra-linguistic factors are considered such as gender, age group, educational level and time in the USA.
Goldvarb X (Sankoff, Tagliamonte & Smith, 2005) was the multivariable analysis program used for the ranking of the linguistic and extra-linguistic factors that tend to influence the subject’s position.
The formulated hypotheses were that post verbal subject placement will occur in sentences with inaccusative verbs, and where the participants in their discourse give new information. As well, the participants with English bilingual dominance and the participants born or arrived in the USA before their eleventh birthday will reflect a higher index of pre verbal subjects.
This community of speakers favored the subject in preverbal position with copulative, transitive and inergative verbs; however preferred the subject in post verbal position with inaccusative verbs. As well, the post verbal position of the subject also was favored when new information was introduced in the discourse. The age factor proved to be significant with the older age Spanish dominant group, selecting the post verbal position significantly more than the middle age Spanish dominant and young age English dominant groups respectively. This could be interpreted as a reflection of an initial movement in the direction of the SV order of the dominant language.